Expedition 2017
an ongoing exploration of electronic music

Q4Q3Q2Q1downloadInterstitial 2016Serial 2016

1Jan 1 Drone In the New Year
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:00 Happy new year! ...which is still a few minutes away here, technically, but I have the first track of this project ready to go.

"This Project" is Expedition 2017, a non-album collection that is going to grow throughout the year into something massive. Last year I finished a 100-track project plus 19 more and two remixes. Let's just see what happens this year, shall we?

Here we have an all-hardware drone track with my 3U mostly-Mutable Instruments Eurorack setup plus MicroBrute. No detailed patch notes for this one, but in a nutshell there are three semi-dependent voices here.

Voice 1: Peaks modulates Tides (triggering with a low audio rate pulse LFO, and slowly sweeping Slope), and its High Tide (PWM) output is mixed with Noise Engineering Ataraxic Translatron.

Voice 2: Rings in Disastrous Peace mode, into Warps Parasite, with Mannequins Three Sisters self-oscillating and modulating Rings.

Voice 3: MicroBrute, modulated by Tides and Three Sisters, and modulating Warps.
2Jan 2 Paint the Mirror
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:16 The title for this track is a clue to something, I'm sure. I was walking around the plaza on a break from work, thinking about art as a reflection of life, and that maybe that goes both directions. I can't do as much to fix the world as I'd like, but I can make music. The words "paint the mirror" came to me at that moment.

This is another all-modular track, with software sequencing and effects. I always enjoy stretching the supposed limits of my small system and making it do more than conventional wisdom says it should. At some point I should probably list my equipment for this project just to get people up to speed who are interested.

Kick drum (and some other stuff): Rings in modal mode.

Other percussive bits: Three Sisters filter, pinged with gates as the input, with two other gates modulating the frequency and FM inputs. That gave me some variety without needing another pitch CV.

Main voice: Ataraxic Translatron, with Tides in PLL mode, mixed in Warps. A Peaks envelope controls the output LPG and modulates Tides. MIDI velocity controls AT's tone, which plays in different perceived octaves (and also affects Tides in fun ways).
3Jan 4 A Shape in the Mist
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:57 A couple of nights ago it was very foggy out, and as we were driving to dinner we passed someone sitting on a low wall and leaning against a fence. My spouse commented on how they looked like someone in a video game about to attack, though they would have seemed much more innocuous in the daylight. So this track is about that contradictory feeling of unease and amusement that comes with the knowledge that the thing in the dark *probably* does not mean you harm even if it gives you goose bumps.

After a lot of recent experimentation with the new hardware, I intentionally started this composition with software synths. But as I worked, the "beginning" moved farther behind an intro that continued to grow. (I usually do use plenty of software effects regardless, and I don't feel there's much advantage in doing effects processing in hardware unless it's for live use and requires more DSP power than a desktop can handle in real time.)

Opening notes: A sine oscillator in Warps, with waveshaping modulated by Tides and some self phase modulation. Into VolumeShaper, UberMod, Replika, and ToneBoosters EQ.

Noise: Ataraxic Translatron straight into the DAW; the input gain is sequenced, into UberMod, Wow2 and Dubstation.

Chimey Piano: Una Corda VST into Wow2, Echobode, Valhalla Plate.

Lead: ByteBeater (my own chiptune VST) into Echobode, supported by a second ByteBeater instance into ValhallaRoom.

Wobbly Bass: MicroBrute with FM from Three Sisters (self-modulating as a sine osc) and Bouncing Ball filter modulation from Peaks Dead Man's Catch. Into Wow2, DubStation, SerumFX and ValhallaPlate.
4Jan 5 Objects In Mirror Universe
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:06 ...are closer than they appear? No big thoughts behind this one, just some experimentation with a "simple" self-generating patch. I had it running for an hour or more, making gentle tweaks, before I decided I better record some of it before I managed to accidentally murder it somehow.

Rings in Inharmonic Strings mode.
Peaks LFO 1 into Rings Input & Struct
Peaks LFO 2 into Rings Position

Tides (slow looping modulation) Uni out into Rings V/OCT
Tides High into Rings Brightness

Both Rings outputs into Warps inputs (Warps Parasite in ping-pong delay mode)
MicroBrute LFO (slow triangle) into Warps Timbre

Some live knob tweaking and minor repatching during the recording.
5Jan 7 Sarah: A Dialogue
(MP3) (YouTube) ("lyrics")
7:00 A demented "conversation" sampled from the viral seebotschat Twitch stream of two Google Home units, nicknamed Vladimir and Estragon, reading the lines of two interacting AI chatbots. I did cut and paste the lines a bit.

Playback is fed to the modular synth and multed to 4 different inputs; I won't get specific about the patch but it involves Rings as a lo-fi delay and the vocoder in Warps.

VST plugins included Echobode, Sonitex STX-1260, Valhalla Ubermod and Unfiltered Audio Fault.
6Jan 8 Take Further Action
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:34 I have a strange affinity for telephone system error recordings. They show up in my music every so often, though not usually this blatantly or playfully.

I was slightly inspired by Steve Reich's "Different Trains", which cleverly specified string quartet parts to act as an acoustic "envelope follower" and accompaniment to the naturally rhythmic voice recordings he used. I was also partially motivated by a desire to experiment with the Ataraxic Translatron to make a decision about keeping it or trading it, and with the choice of title and specific sample snippets, partially making a comment about American politics in early 2017.

I ran the samples through two envelope followers in Streams, one to act as a VCA and the other to modulate Ataraxic Translatron's Tone input. I also ran the samples and the AT's output into Warps in vocoder mode, then through Space360 reverb to place it "behind" the listener and soften it up compared to the other channels.

In retrospect, this didn't help me decide anything about keeping the AT module, and I almost wish I had written some percussion parts to match the vocal rhythms instead of relying on automation. But in experimental music, not every experiment can be a complete success.
7Jan 8 Ascetic Party
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:36 Ain't no party like an ascetic party, because... there just isn't.

There's a billboard for a local radio station that says "ALL PARTY NO POTTY." I observed that this is a bad idea, and my spouse said "especially if there's alcohol" and "maybe it's an ascetic party." This led to us chortling over the idea of some very serious monks sitting in someone's living room together, carefully not enjoying themselves, perhaps occasionally sipping water.

Lots of chaotic texture in this track thanks to four LFOs and a VCO modulating Tides (Sheep), which is also self-modulating. Its normal and 1-bit outputs are sent through Streams and Three Sisters for two stages of filtering and some distortion. Some Valhalla VintageVerb is applied.

The second voice is PPG Wave 2V into Replika.
8Jan 9 Glittering
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:56 I had the bones of this track done yesterday along with the previous two, but I didn't want to stay up late to flesh it out. I figured it was time for a somewhat more conventional track, but not too conventional because I'm still me.

Voice 1: Tides (Sheep), through Streams in vactrol ping mode, with slope modulated by envelope. Two instances of ArcDev ET-301 at different delay rates and tones.

Voice 2: MicroBrute, with Ultrasaw input modulated by Warps' VCO, into ValhallaPlate.

Voice 3: Rings modulated by two envelopes and an LFO, through MHarmonizerCM, Unfiltered Audio Fault and ValhallaVintageVerb, doubled with Qyoo VST.

Drums: Two Maschine Rising Crescent kits & HelloSamples Analog Tempest DryMars.
9Jan 10 Entropy Reverser
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:57 It's Didn't-Use-the-Modular Tuesday! Doesn't that just roll off the tongue?

This one takes a couple of really chaotic sound sources and attempts, with some futility, to turn them into something a bit less chaotic. You can fight the Second Law of Thermodynamics but you can't win.

Fnord VST is a plugin I developed for myself, inspired by the upcoming (?) Sonic Potions Malacylpse module and Turing Machine module. There's a noise table iterated at a clock rate set to match the frequency of the incoming MIDI note, and a random chance that each value will be replaced by one of several algorithms. Here I've sequenced notes as well as changes to algorithm and table size.

Bastl Trinity MonoFM is a weird little toy that attempts to be a 4-op monophonic FM synth, but running on a weak processor that can't actually keep up with the math in real time, so it constantly glitches out in interesting ways. Here I'm running it through TimeShaper and Echobode, each providing some of the "melody" lines with their shifting.

A third voice is provided by NI Session Horns, through Speaker, MTransformer and UberMod VSTs to make sure all that meticulous recording of a brass section no longer sounds anything like a brass section.
10Jan 13 Not Psithurism
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:53 "Psithurism" is the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. At some point I thought "that's a cool word" and put it on my list of possible titles. And then months later, I misremembered and thought it was the sound of rain on the ground instead. There were things about this track that remind me of rain on the ground, so I pulled out the name. Then I looked it up for this description and found I was wrong...

Experimenting last night with feeding an LFO into Rings' input (as a rapid series of clicks might suggest mandolins), I found to my surprise that even smooth, slow sine waves were doing interesting things. After some digging I found that's because the LFO does make quite a bit of audible noise, even when it should be under 10Hz. So I played with that some in this track.

I've also been listening to Venetian Snares' "Traditional Synthesizer Music" album, which may have influenced some of the sequencing here.

The various voices here are:

1. Maschine Drumsynth kick through Cruelle VST
2. 2HP LFO through Three Sisters filter, into Streams
3. Trigger signal XORd with the triangle oscillator in Warps, into DPLPG
4. A 6-bit noise sample through SerumFX VST
5. Rings in FM mode, with frequency modulated by trigger signal, into Streams
6. Tides PLLd by Rings odd output, with smoothness modulated by envelope and slope by LFO, through DubStation VST
7. MicroBrute with serious highpass filtering going on, through Decimort VST
11Jan 16 Purple Spacesuit
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:32 Since learning there are purple spacesuit pajamas in The Sims 3, I knew "Purple Spacesuit" had to be a track title.

Here I'm using a sample courtesy of NASA, made slightly less intelligible, alongside some other sounds reminiscent of the rhythms and noise bursts of long-distance radio communication and some pads to tie it together. In order of appearance:

1: A malfunctioning Korg DS-8 completely glitching out, with some ValhallaUberMod delay (below is what the display was showing when I recorded it -- a secret message?).
2: Kick and snare from a Maschine drum kit through Plogue Chipcrusher VST
3: FM8 through Vapor and Dubstation VSTs
4: Commander Chris Ferguson's comments upon the landing of STS-135 (the final Space Shuttle mission) through ET-301 and Speaker VSTs
5: Modular: folded sawtooth from Warps driving Tides in PLL mode, which then AMs the Warps signal. A couple of steps removed from my interpretation of a proposed VOSIM patch.
6: Serum VST
12Jan 17 Particle Trace
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:58 This was an extension of the VOSIM-ish experiment in the previous track: what if, instead of a simple oscillator, I used Rings? The answer: it's pretty crazy. I wound up recording two takes and mixing them: one where Tides tried valiantly to follow Rings in PLL mode (but with a shifting multiplier), and one where it just played along at the same pitch.

Both were through multiple VST delay and reverb stages, and accompanied by Chipspeech through Valhalla Plate.

This is one of those tracks where I'm not quite sure about it now, but I may find I enjoy it more later. What you might think of it, or any of this, is too difficult to guess. This isn't Top 40 stuff here. ;)
13Jan 17 the tiniest hands
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:59 The Bastl Kastle is miniscule, so short fingers would likely be an advantage in patching it. Thin orange skin, a frightening toupee, and all the eloquence and leadership ability of moldy cheese? Not helpful.

Here the Kastle's frequency is modulated by MIDI note (it doesn't track pitch normally) and the trigger resets its LFO, which is patched to its waveshaper. Intermittent accents are somehow the result of patching the LFO pulse output to the LFO rate. From there it goes through both Streams channels in stereo, one in LPG ping mode and the other in AD envelope mode. Some VST delay and reverb applied.
14Jan 21 Unlikely Timeline
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:50 Nothing clever to say today, just making some ominous music.

Voice 1: Rings in inharmonic strings mode. Structure and FM are modulated by Tides. Rings output into Warps Parasite delay, fed back to Rings input. Through ValhallaVintageVerb, Replika and Fault VSTs.

Voice 2: Three Sisters in formant mode, all voices self-oscillating, through MicroBrute for envelope/filter/VCA. Span modulated by 2HP LFO. Through Spirit Reverb VST.

Voice 3: Bastl Kastle, with LFO reset triggered via sequence, through ShaperBox & Valhalla Plate VSTs.
15Jan 22 Delicious Friend
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:18 In a forum thread about nasty digital oscillators, someone mentioned the 1-bit output in Tides Sheep. This is not that. But that comment, plus the aftermath of an afternoon failing to repair a fence and then failing to set the fencepost on fire in frustration and desperation, led here somehow.

The name comes from Fallen London, a game you should try even though I'm not really playing it myself at this point. I removed the word "patience" because I've used mine up for today.

So: it's noisy. But there are structures in it and I find a certain beauty in these things.

The majority of the track is Rings in inharmonic strings mode, feeding Tides trigger. Tides pulse and bipolar outputs are mixed in Warps and run through Three Sisters all input/output into DAW. Sisters Low output feeds back into Rings input. Tides unipolar output goes to 2HP LFO rate control, and LFO output modulates Tides shape and Sisters frequency. A resonance boost for Sisters is gated by the sequencer to kick off the feedback, and throughout the track at times. Reverb added in VST.

There are also 2 instances of Plogue Chipsounds adding some drones, for a while.

Because the LFO's phase at the time the sequence begins had a major effect on how the track sounded, I decided to record it twice, with the first version 80% left and the second 80% right in the final mix. It just so happens they weren't as radically different as they could have been.
16Jan 25 Derelict
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:03 Another title inspired by the times and our dread of worse to come. The track itself is the outcome of experimental modular patching and sound design.

voice 1: Rings in FM mode, through Mini Slew acting as a sort of LPG. (An envelope is inverted and offset by S.P.O. and used to modulate rise & fall times; +Out self-modulates Vari CV.) Some random variation of the ratio per note. A little spring reverb and grain delay in NI Guitar Rig.

Voice 2A: 2HP LFO at a very low rate modulating Three Sisters frequency, with resonance on the edge of self-oscillation. The discontinuities and noise in the LFO, as well as occasional trigger pulses, cause the filter to "ping." Highpass output through Transient Master & Diode VSTs.

Voice 2B: the Lowpass output from Three Sisters, into Tides trigger. Tides bipolar output into Transverb VST.

Voice 3: ArcSyn VST.

Kloe drum kit from Hexagon Highway Maschine expansion.
17Jan 26 Automated Sarcasm
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:17 I like my music like I like my jobs of the future: fully automated.

Voice 1: Bastl Kastle kick & drone. (Sampled, and the song tempo set to match its repeat frequency.)

Voice 2: Tides vocoded by Warps, with modulation from irregularly triggered Peaks Tap LFO, through DPLPG.

Voice 3: Rings in inharmonic strings mode, doubled with Three Sisters sine through Mini Slew as envelope follower. Multiple delay FX VSTs.

Voice 4: Bastl Kastle ("live") mixed with its trigger signal from CV.OCD.
18Jan 27 EØ Microjam
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:07 Two pieces of gear arrived today, and after a few hours of jamming with one and a little testing and exploration of the other, I made the sort of track that a person like me would make on their first night with these two new pieces of gear.

Voice 1: a slow, generative Make Noise Ø-Coast patch with Three Sisters, Mini Slew, and S.P.O.

Voice 2: a generative patch with Qu-Bit EON in noise mode & 2HP LFO.

A touch of Valhalla UberMod added after recording.
19Jan 28 DØdging RaindrØps
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:21 I promise not to use the "Ø" character in every song title that includes the Ø-Coast; it'll get tedious very quickly. (For me too, because it requires HTML escape codes and all.) But indulge me this one (probably) last time.

Bass/main voice: Ø-Coast in arpeggiator mode, driven by irregular (and swung) sequenced triggers, with additional modulation from Mini Slew.

Drums: Goldbaby SP12 Vinyl.

Extra hi-hat/shaker: Rings (modal), with Brightness modulated by velocity, Structure randomized per note, through Warps Parasite.

Second voice: Korg Legacy MonoPoly VST.
20Jan 28 Sanity on a Stick
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:43 Things on sticks are pretty much inherently funny, except for heads (and sometimes even then). The title comes from the wonderful songname.net name generator. Usually I come up with them myself but sometimes randomness is next to weirdliness. I don't tend to use random generators for my sequences either, except in the case of an actual Krell-type generative patch. Which this isn't.

If the rhythm is a little hard to follow, that's because it's in 4.25/4 time, with a 100% swing setting on a 9/16 cycle. You're welcome!

Voice 1: Qu-Bit EON, PWM'd by Mini Slew, using Warps in vocoder mode, through DPLPG. Transient Master & Echobode VSTs. (The Mini Slew patch: minimum rise/fall, linear shape, squarewave->input, modulation->FM, EOC out. I need to make notes about how to patch Mini Slew because it can do so many different things!)

Voice 2: Make Noise 0-Coast using its Slope section as a synced oscillator. DubStation VST.

Voice 3: Rings in FM mode, with brightness and position modulated by Tides, through DPLPG and Three Sisters all in/out. ValhallaPlate and MTransformer VSTs.

Voice 4: Ephemere VST psuedo-random percussion.

Voice 5: NI Razor & Valhalla Plate.
21Jan 29 The Place by the Stream
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:50 I renamed this song six times, trying to fit the imagery in my head. A little mountain stream in the woods, with maybe an ancient temple nearby or maybe not, on a cloudy, misty day. Something calm and peaceful to counteract the political turmoil.

A lot of the texture and the little clicks come from a granular harmonizer trying to turn single notes into open chords and not quite coping. Some of it might be from my 2HP LFO, which despite moving around in my case and switching to it to a different power cable, is still noisy. But noisy can be good.

Voice 1: Rings into 0-Coast, feeding back into Rings. Rings position modulated by white noise, structure by sine LFO and 0-Coast balance by slow smooth random LFO. Through Eos VST, and separately through Ratshack Reverb, MHarmonizer and ValhallaPlate.

Voice 2: Arturia Analog Lab 2 "Dark Panorama" through Uhbik-Q, gently modulated by VolumeShaper.
22Jan 29 Radial Pursuits
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:27 The patch I set up with Mini Slew kept jumping octaves in interesting ways, which led to fun "pings" but also confounded my attempts at writing a more coherent melody. I felt like I was running in circles chasing the melody at times.

I find that running audio signals through Mini Slew gives a sound a little bit more reminiscent of the 0-Coast, but chose not to add the actual 0-Coast to the track this time.

This was another case where I thought I had the reverb less in-your-face, but compression/limiting applied after recording wound up bringing it up to at least chin level. It works here, but this is a note to myself to plan for that in the future.

Qu-Bit EON square VCO through DPLPG, and also through Mini Slew as a messy filter/divider; crossfading between those in Warps modulated by EON's LFO output, then a chain of several VST plugins. "Drums" from MicroTonic VST.
23Jan 31 A Grim Ward Tone
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:13 "Ill news is an ill guest. Why do you lay these troubles on a already troubled mind?" -- my reaction to almost much every news post in the past couple of weeks.

Voice 1: Bastl Kastle through DPLPG modulated by EON envelope.

Voice 2: ByteBeater VST through FilterBank3 & ET-301 VSTs.

Voice 3: Tides Parasite Two Bumps, self-modulated through Mini Slew which is modulated by Peaks random LFO, 1-bit output through Warps as VCA. Ubermod, VolumeShaper & PianoVerb VSTs.

Drums: samples.kb6.de Forat F9000 kit through Cruelle VST.

(Tomorrow, FAWM begins. I won't be participating this time, but I'm going to breeze past its 14-track goal anyway no doubt. I've done FAWM and NaSoAlMo in the past, but found myself frantic during those months and musically idle for too much of the rest of the year. For me, "slow" and steady (one track per week) was the key to unlocking fast and steady.)
24Feb 2 Executive Disorder
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:38 Yup. Disorder on all sides. I'm hoping the evil will shake apart before the good does. One has money, the other the power of the people. We'll see.

I'll be in my bunker, making noises.

Voice 1: MicroBrute, with PWM modulated by Mini Slew envelope, no added effects. Doubled with EON square wave through DPLPG (modulated by same Mini Slew envelope), through DubStation VST.

Voice 2: Tides through Three Sisters highpass filter, through DPLPG. Tides slope and DPLPG modulated by Peaks envelopes. High Tide output modulates Mini Slew Vari-CV, which affects EON's DPLPG channel (but since it's a vactrol it doesn't respond instantly to fast modulation, so the effect is sort of a rough level boost rather than standard AM).

Voice 3: Fnord noise VST through dBlueClipper VST.

Voice 4: ChipSounds VST.
25Feb 3 Antlers
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:34 Forum threads often lead to experimentation. Someone was excited about the results they got from modulating the FM input on Mutable Instruments Elements, but it's something I've had mixed results with myself. Rings has a somewhat similar architecture to Elements, but with important differences. But they were so enthusiastic I figured I would give it another try.

And yet, for this track I wound up falling back a little toward my own techniques with Rings, and used noise for the FM instead.

Rings in modal mode. Input is from Warps internal oscillator with its phase modulated by 2HP LFO; Position modulated by random gates from EON.

Stacked voice 1: Rings Structure is modulated by white noise from EON; through Echobode and Valhalla Vintage Verb.

Stacked voice 2: Rings Frequency is modulated by white noise from EON; through Maul, Echobode, and Valhalla Vintage Verb VSTs. Rings frequency is down an octave, Warps frequency are set higher.

Slow crossfade from voice 2 to voice 1 at beginning, and partial crossfade back to 2 over the length of the track.
26Feb 5 Basic Rhythm Unit
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:00 I joined a march yesterday against the cruel and unconstitutional Muslim immigration ban and the expensive, symbolically racist, and useless border wall. Between that and a forum discussion about percussion from filter pings, I was inspired to do something rhythmic.

I kept it short because, well, sometimes I do that.

The sort-of-frame-drum-ish, sort-of-darbuka-ish part that opens the track is Warps' sine oscillator through a sharp Mini-Slew envelope in Zlob Dual VCA, into Rings used more as an effect than a voice, and a little help from Uhbik-P phaser VST.

The sort-of-wood-strike, sort-of-beepy sound is all three parts of Three Sisters filter in bandpass mode, pinged with gates, through Decimort2 VST.

Cymbals and shakers are Maschine drumsynth.

Kick drums with distorted peaks are from Peaks, through Space360 and Blockfish VSTs.

The squealy not-quite-a-snare-drum-is-it? is Peaks snare drum modulating MicroBrute's bandpass filter, with rapidly modulated pitch.
27Feb 7 Elemental Form
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:56 This track almost had a very different name, but I didn't like the associations. Changing its name was a symbolic act (in more ways than one I suppose) of rendering a dangerous thing harmless, or at least not actively malicious.

I employed every module in my rack at the moment (the EON is out for repairs, and a Gozinta is on its way) plus the MicroBrute in the service of this dark ambient drone. Which element am I thinking of? Really, all four Western classical elements are found here.

Tides FMs Warps' oscillator, which, wavefolded, feeds Rings input. And lots of things modulate lots of other things. Reverb and chorus in VST.
28Feb 8 Nevertheless, She Persisted
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:18 Dedicated to Elizabeth Warren, Coretta Scott King, and all who persist.

Voice 1 is Warps Parasite triangle oscillator, feeding Peaks in Tap LFO mode (to use it as a PLL oscillator with a bit of "natural" portamento), back into Warps second input. Warps is in Bit Mangler mode, with the Algorithm parameter modulated by a Mini Slew envelope. Both Warps outputs through different channels of Zlob Dual VCA, one controlled by Peaks ADSR and the other by the same Mini Slew envelope.

Drums are Maschine ModDB and Monsieur Bueh kits, with some modifications.

Voice 2 is literally a voice -- my spouse's, sampled several few years ago and processed various ways.

Voice 3 is my own ByteBeater VST.
29Feb 9 Stone Feast
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:13 My Make Noise 0-Coast is back from repairs, and now the Dynamics light lights dynamically. To celebrate, I did something I've only done 28 other times since January 1. :)

This is:

Warps through Zlob Dual VCA
Tides through DPLPG

Each channel has an instance of ET-301 VST with its own settings; SerumFX and the usual compression are on the master channel.
30Feb 9 Coastal Run
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:06 I was just playing around with the 0-Coast and Warps, had this arpeggio-ish snippet going for the longest time, and wanted to get it down but was pretty sure I didn't really want to use it in a full track. So I went ahead and recorded it, figuring I might keep it for myself and not upload it.

But now that it's done, well, why not. Barely over a minute isn't long enough to get tired of it.

0-Coast, Warps Parasite vocoder, DubStation VST, and "Murdah" Maschine drumkit.
31Feb 11 Don't Touch the Ground
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:43 This is, apparently, the sort of thing I might do if it's 4 AM and I can't sleep. It's not random, just complex and chaotic.

Tides, in slow cycling mode, is the modulating heart of this one. It's self-patched and also modulated by Mini-Slew and 2HP LFO. The unipolar output controls Warps' oscillator frequency.

Warps, acting only as an oscillator, feeds Rings in sympathetic string mode, which is set to an ultra-low frequency (thanks to a negative offset voltage from S.P.O.) so it acts as a weird and dirty digital delay. Rings' structure is modulated by the "high tide" EOR gate from Tides, and position by the 2HP LFO.

No effects added in software other than EQ/compression. Some live knob tweaking and changing of Warps' oscillator mode.
32Feb 11 Amethyst Deceiver
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:08 The Amethyst Deceiver is a gorgeous, bizarre mushroom that gets its name from its color -- and the loss of that color as it ages, making them difficult to identify. When I first heard of them I knew I needed to use the name for something.

Recently I heard a fantastically well put-together track that involved Braids feeding Rings for nice bowed string sounds, so I thought I'd experiment a little with software feeding it. I wound up with a Korg M1 string synth preset that generated a very flute-like tone, so I ran with that. At the same time, I tried for what I think of as a sort of old-school Carlos/Fast feel.

I'm regularly coming close to maxing out my available modulation sources -- something I'm keeping in mind while making Eurorack expansion plans.

Voice 1: Korg M1 Legacy VST into Rings input, via Gozinta. Rings in modal mode, Structure modulated by velocity. Mini-Slew envelope controls output VCA and modulates Rings Position. ValhallaRoom VST.

Voice 2: Warps sine oscillator, FMd by Tides, through DPLPG controlled by Peaks envelope. Peaks LFO modulates Tides Sharpness. Replika and Spirit Reverb VSTs.

Voice 3: 0-Coast with square output tthrough Three Sisters filter. 2HP LFO through VCA controlled by MicroBrute envelope modulates the 0-Coast's frequency for some delayed vibrato. Ratshack Reverb and ValhallaUberMod VSTs.
33Feb 13 Vestigial Chimney
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:39 There's a house we pass on our way to one of our regular restaurants that has a window on the second floor... in the chimney. We decided that the fireplace must no longer be in use, so it's a vestigial chimney.

Now that I've Googled it, it's not completely unique or impossible -- a metal flue routes around either side of the window within the brick facade. Not the first thing we thought of, since we never use our own fireplace. But it's still at least a little weird.

Anyway. Drone/noise track here mostly, making use of a couple of my smallest sound toys.

Voice 1: A big mess of a modular drone patch -- mostly a big feedback cycle where Tides drives Rings input, which mixes with a Warps oscillator which clocks Tides in PLL mode. ValhallaVintageVerb VST.

Voice 2: Bastl Kastle, with Mode controlled by gate and pitch modulated by pitch CV, and separately controlled input level gate. ValhallaRoom VST.

Voice 3: 0-coast, with Olegtron*4060 (using two red and one RGB LED to create the modulation rhythm) patched into Fund input and slope time. Echobode VST.
34Feb 14 Symbiosis and You
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:04 I had the thought earlier today that I'm not sure I love the sound of the Mannequins Three Sisters filter, compared to some other options out there. I keep finding myself patching in West Coast style and doing unconventional things with the filter. I know that it's a great symbiont for Rings (or perhaps, given the name, a trio of adopted sisters) but I wanted to make sure it was more.

So I made a plan to test it, with an ear toward maybe trading it for a couple of "lesser" filters with different character. And I found that I do actually like it quite a lot for its sound, as well as its features and idiosyncracies. And then I patched it into Rings feedback anyway because that's how I roll.

A monophonic feedback path while Rings is in polyphonic mode is also a fun thing. Each note of a melody becomes relative to previous notes, and some care must be taken when starting a recording to ensure the feedback path is silent or neutral rather than horribly dissonant. (Unless horrible dissonance is the goal.)

Voice 1:
Rings in Sympathetic Strings mode, 4x polyphony
Tides at audio rate
Three Sisters in crossover mode
Rings Odd into Three Sisters All in
Sisters All out into Zlob dual VCA (CV from Peaks envelope) into DAW (Replika & ValhallaRoom VSTs)
Sisters Low out into Rings structure
Sisters Center out into Rings Input
Tides Bi into Rings FM
Peaks env into Tides Shape
Peaks env into Sisters FM
Pitch CV 1 into Rings/Tides/Sisters V/Oct

Voice 2 (background drones):
Tides High output + 0-Coast square into 0-Coast slope trigger
0-Coast Slope into Fund in
0-Coast out into DAW

Voice 3 (sub bass & "bongo" pings):
Warps in digital ringmod mode, sine osc enabled
DPLPG ping (+5V offset to input) into Warps input 2
Pitch CV 2 into Warps osc freq
Warps output into DAW
35Feb 14 Window Seat
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:56 Today's offering is your basic busy, bouncy, bubbly bassline.

And I do support the Oxford Comma.

Voice 1: 0-Coast. Multiply is sequenced, Slope modulates Overtone, and Slope Time is modulated by Peaks DMC mini-seq. Delay in VST.

Voice 2: Microbrute, through Maul and Blockfish VSTs.
36Feb 20 Fallen From the Trees
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:23 When "finished" with this track I wasn't happy with it at all, so I de-finished it. Without repatching, I tweaked knobs, shifted frequencies, slowed down the tempo, messed with the rhythmic feel, added the more ambient bits and shuffled parts. I also screwed up some of my edits, after having disabled my autosave utility (which wreaks having while recording live audio) and made some forced changes as a result. So the track is something entirely different now than it was on its first take.

Overall, the Rings part is less like a guitar and more like a weird metallic glass thingy; the Tides part sounds much less like a demented duck being kicked repeatedly, and the MicroBrute parts are less brutish. Rhythms are not really more steady but they are differently perturbed. (I suspect EON's internal VCA/envelope in noise mode is responsible for part of the slipperiness. That module is trouble, sometimes in interesting ways.)

I came very close to throwing out all the parts that weren't purely ambient. Since I did not choose that, not deleting them was the correct decision. My philosophy is that in music like this I just have to follow my instincts, let the music lead sometimes and take control of it at other times and get a result I could never entirely predict, without using any stochastic (random) processes.

My spouse remarked yesterday on the number of cables I have on my hanger -- but this patch used nearly all of the ones I have except for the longest, the very shortest and some of the splitters/attenuators.

Voice 1: 0-Coast generating noise, through Decimort and TB EQ VSTs.

Voice 2: Rings in nonlinear string mode, with EON enveloped noise fed to its input and some self-FM. Intentionally overdriven, and through Dent, Ratshack Reverb and SerumFX VSTs.

Voice 3: MicroBrute, PWMd rapidly by 2HP LFO, through SpaceModulator VST.

Voice 4: Tides FMd by Warps sine oscillator, which is FM'd by High Tide output. Through Three Sisters filter with negative Q, with High and Low outputs mixed. Tides Smoothness and Sisters FM modulated by Peaks envelopes. Through TB EQ & ValhallaRoom VSTs.
37Feb 21 Snowflakes Interlude
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:03 This track is basically just a demonstration of a (useful!) behavior quirk in Mutable Instruments Rings.

Feed a sine wave into its input, in inharmonic strings mode. With Structure above about 1/4 of its minimum, it behaves as expected -- not many bands resonate and it mostly acts as a sort of reverb for the input frequency.

Turn down Structure though, and it starts sounding like a blown/bowed model with many more harmonics in the input. It sounds a lot like it does when you run the output through a wavefolder and feed it back to the input -- some kind of overdrive/feedback effect is happening here due to some quirk of the math, the implementation or both.

So this track starts with just a sine wave source from my DAW (with a little light chorusing on a send effect), then brings in Rings in inharmonic mode, walking the Structure down a bit over time. Then it repeats in modal and sympathetic strings modes, before cutting off the input to Rings and wrapping up with just the sine again. No other effects added besides the chorus; none of the usual reverb or dynamics adjustments this time.
38Feb 24 disruP45t
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:21 I choose not to describe how this track was made, so as not to dilute its intent. It's not pretty. That's also part of the intent.

A different sort of mirror-painting here.
39Feb 26 Something Here
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:54 Nothing much to say about this one, just wanted to make some more music. Someone on a forum had asked about PLL in Mutable Instruments Tides, so I started this from that point.

Voice 1: 0-Coast square feeds Tides PLL clock, which drives 0-Coast Slope, whose EOC output is mixed with the normal 0-Coast voice, through mda SubSynth VST. EON & Warps through Zlob Dual VCA CV'd by different clock triggers, into Tides FM. Tides Uni to a separate DAW input, through DubStation VST.

Voice 2: Rings does cowbell/metallic bonk sounds. FM'd by triple sine from Three Sisters and position modulated by 2hp LFO.

Drums: Digicussion Conundrums kit.
40Feb 26 Denormal
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:42 As sore and tired as I am from adventures yesterday, I'm surprised I recorded even one track today, let alone two. But here it is.

A generative patch that entangles the 0-Coast with my modular system. Different aspects of the patch are driven by interacting cycles from Mini Slew, 2hp LFO and Tides; Rings is in a feedback loop mediated by the 0-Coast's dynamics.

ValhallaRoom, Echobode and ValhallaPlate VSTs.
41Feb 27 EMM386.SYS
(MP3) (YouTube)
7:37 The name should be familiar to anyone who played PC games in the late 80s and early 90s. It was a time when hardware specs, the diversity of sound and graphics devices, and the needs of games were growing much more quickly than MS-DOS's ability to manage it all. You'd have to set up a custom batch file (sometimes manually after much trial and error) to boot from a floppy disk that would set up everything as needed. Some of it depended on which slots on your motherboard you had various things plugged into, so your AdLib sound card didn't fight with your 2400 baud fax modem and a serial port that doesn't physically exist doesn't conflict with your Hercules graphics card.

I just wanted to name something after "good" ol' EMM386 and remind people that, at least in some aspects of life, things are indeed better than they once were.

What we have here is another two-part, manually-wiggled drone. The first voice is both Peaks channels in LFO mode, with channel 1 additionally triggered by Tides at audio rates somewhat higher than Peaks can manage on its own. Out1 feeding In1 and CV2 and Out2 feeding CV1 and In2 on the Zlob Dual VCA -- so a sort of opposed quasi-AM -- with the output going to the left channel; also the two Peaks outputs fed the two channels of Warps in crossfolder mode for the right channel.

The second voice was EON in oscillator mode, modulated by 0-Coast, feeding Rings at a fixed frequency in sympathetic strings mode, and 0-Coast FM'd by Mini Slew and just generally keeping busy.
42Feb 28 Child-Sized Shark Cage
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:32 As we were heading out one evening, we passed a truck hauling a trailer with an oddly sized frame of metal bars on it. Throwing out guesses about what it was, I came up with "child-sized shark cage." It was about the right proportions after all...

This was an experiment with just Tides and Three Sisters patched together, with Tides in low frequency mode. The patch is:

Tides High -- Sisters All in
Tides Uni -- Sisters FM
Sisters All out -- Tides Smoothness
Sisters Low out -- Tides V/OCT
Sisters Center out -- Sisters High In
Sisters High out -- Sisters Freq
Tides Low -- Tides Shape
Tides Bi -- DAW

About 2/3 of the manual knob tweaking during the recording was on Sisters, but much of the motion you're hearing is its own spontaneous interaction.

Some pre-verb (filtered) and delay (also filtered) added during post-processing.
43Mar 5 Morlu
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:20 No new music for the past few days because we were cleaning, semi-packing, and then replacing our old office/studio furniture with new stuff. I had received a couple of new modules during that time but was only able to awkwardly test them and explore them just a little.

Now I've got a whole new layout for my music gear, and today's track showed me just how much a part of the instrument the case/rack, cables and physical layout actually are. I've gone from a shallow angle to vertical and the distances between connections have changed. I expect I will shuffle some things around again and acquire some different lengths of cables to better suit the new setup.

But also, at least in this patch I found myself engaging more with VCAs and envelopes. This track is, in a way, a single voice -- Rings and Synchrodyne in feedback, tapping two points for outputs which sound very different. There's also a separate sequence driving an oscillator for Synchrodyne's sync input, so we don't hear it directly but it influences the tuning and the feedback relationship.
44Mar 5 OR-14
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:59 Named for the ill-fated predecessors of the new Overwatch character, Orisa. For your safety, please stand behind the barrier.

Voice 1: Synchrodyne, FMing itself with its PLL delta. EON noise into its filter input. Sawtooth and 4PWF outputs mixed in Zlob Dual VCA, overdriven by Gozinta. SerumFX VST.

Voice 2: A clear 0-coast sound, using the slope generator as a sync oscillator, modulated by 2HP LFO. Layered with a growly MicroBrute voice using maximum Brute Factor on its filter. Mixed into ValhallaPlate VST.

Voice 3: Kastle with its waveshape modulated, through Synthrotek DLY with a short delay time and moderate feedback, through DPLPG.

Voice 4: Plogue Chipsounds VST.
45Mar 6 Shadow Lock
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:02 As I started working on this one, it reminded me of a ditty that my spouse and I improvised several years ago as I was noodling on a guitar... which I then confused with another one of her songs. It's possible the main bassline from this one, and those other two, could be combined into something that works, but I chose to go elsewhere with it.

This was one of those that was a bit more involved as far as the creative process goes -- despite coming out with relatively few voices. Some tracks are sketches; others are paintings. There was a definite surge of satisfaction at one point though, as the pieces started coming together. My "this is one of the good ones" feelings while creating don't always match my favorites later on, but I'm doing this for the process as much as for the result so either way is a win.

The name just sort of happened. I realize now that it reminds me of the mention of "chamber lock" in Portal, which makes me think of antique pistols as well as some kind of futuristic airlock thing. But "Shadow Lock" is probably some kind of warlock spec in an MMORPG, which is much less cool than, say, a magical seal on a door that keeps dark creatures at bay, or something.

Drums: a Maschine kit, slightly modified.

Voice 1: Warps triangle osc in wavefolder mode, through Zlob Dual VCA and Three Sisters lowpass. Fold amount controlled by one Peaks envelope, VCA/VCF by another. Output to DAW, and also to Rings input, with a fixed (low) frequency and slow random modulation of position; Rings output to DAW.

Voice 2: 0-Coast driving Synchrodyne (via pitch CV & squarewave sync). 0-Coast triangle output runs through DPLPG gated by 0-Coast, into Synchrodyne exponential FM; 0-Coast contour controls Synchrodyne VCA. 0-Coast and Synchodyne 4-pole output into DAW. A gate gives 0-Coast's pitch a 5 octave boost at times.

Voice 3: Night Flight VST into DubStation VST.
46Mar 8 Footless
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:00 I guess I was thinking about "Footloose" subconsciously in some way, though I can't imagine why, I don't dance and very little of my music is dance-friendly. So... it's footless? Maybe?

Voice 1: NI Razor and Korvpressor VSTs

Voice 2: MicroBrute, with pitch and envelope CVs driving Warps internal triangle osc and amplitude, which FMs MicroBrute. ValhallaUberMod VST.

Voice 3: NI The Giant & ValhallaRoom VSTs

Voice 4: Synchrodyne square oscillator followed by its own PLL and (slightly detuned) Tides PLL, mixed with some stereo spread.

Drums: samples.kb6.de Stylophone Beatbox kit.

Additional metallic percussion: 0-Coast with its contour pinging Three Sisters All input; Sisters All output back to 0-Coast and also self-patched to Spread.
47Mar 9 Bait Mannequin
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:44 The track title comes from a news story about cops who placed a mannequin where a serial killer would be tempted to attack it, which is a plan that apparently worked. If it's not a fake story, that is. Someone in this story -- the killer, the reporter, or me -- just doesn't know what's real anymore. I thought about making it "Bat Mannequin," as Mr. Wayne does have several of them in his cave to keep his armor on display and some of them probably even have secret crime-fighting features. But no.

Drums: Goldbaby SP1200 Maschine kit with ValhallaRoom VST. If I haven't used exactly this drumkit in another song, I've at least used a very similar snare, in a similar way, in another track with similar swing (but possibly not in 7/8 time).

Voice 1: The bass, drunken bonks and pings even a few surprise violin-like notes are 0-Coast & Synchrodyne. SD VCO is synced to 0-Coast square, with exponential FM from the incoming pitch CV, and both linear FM and SD's VCA controlled by a Mini Slew envelope triggered by the 0-Coast's gate. 2PFW output to 0-Coast fund input. 0-Coast's slope generator is triggered by Contour EON, modulates Multiply, and EOC clocks the random generator which (gently) feeds its linear FM.

Voice 2: The more background, breathy and echoey pads are Rings in modal mode, through Three Sisters lowpass filter and Warps Parasite delay. Rings input is EON noise VCA'd by a Peaks envelope, mixed with some feedback from the delay. Delay time and Rings position are modulated by a second Peaks envelope. I have a Synthrotek DLY I picked up on a whim that I could have used for this, but I didn't -- a sign that the DLY might get resold.

Voice 3: The harsher pads and squeals that come in after the first minute are Tides Parasite Two Bumps, with 1-bit and permuted outputs mixed, through DPLPG controlled by an attenuated gate (for some filtering). Through Replika VST.
48Mar 9 Local Minima
(MP3) (YouTube)
4:45 When I make drone patches, they always seem to wind up with two parts. Sometimes those parts are independent, sometimes closely interrelated as in this case.

Tides Parasite Two Bumps, with Uni and Bi outputs crossfaded in Warps via LFO. Shape, Slope and Smoothness modulated by slow envelope or LFO. FMd by Synchrodyne PLL phase delta output; SD's linear FM is modulated by Three Sisters all output (while self-oscillating at a low rate).

Warps output is run through a VCA with a slow envelope, mixed with Rings output, and go out to the DAW as well as feeding Rings input.

Rings is in inharmonic string mode and has a negative V/OCT offset, mixed with a square wave from EON to keep its frequency low overall but busy. EON's frequency is modulated by the Low output of Three Sisters.
49Mar 10 Before Everything
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:38 That thing I just said about all my drones being made of two parts? Not this time. This is also possibly the most droney drone I have ever droned, and probably you have to be a fan of the subgenre to appreciate it.

I have to be in the right mood for drones myself. I can't entirely explain why I find some drones compelling and others not, but (A) I could say that about any kind of music and (B) it's all about texture. This one does have a lot of texture, but while working on it I have listened to it too much and am not a good judge right now.

At dinnertime as I paused working on it, I just let it run with nobody around, with the speakers turned up just a little bit. When I returned to it, it sounded like... weather of some kind, almost like sleet but not quite. I couldn't really recapture that feeling with it in headphones though; it had everything to do with the room's acoustics and ambient noises. It was nice though. Maybe this needs to be listened to with the volume down low. Unless while driving; that probably won't work. :)

This is Tides' High Tide output into Synthrotek DLY. It's self-FM'd from its Bi output, and Slope is modulated by a squarewave from EON through an LFO-controlled VCA. Warps sine oscillator is modulating the DLY's delay time at audio rates, and since the DLY gets glitchy past a certain time setting, it's rapidly flipping in and out of that state. I think...?

Some additional processing in Sound Forge (mostly applying some reverb and shifting the pitch down a bit).
50Mar 11 Brontone
(MP3) (YouTube)
6:17 Not only were we told years ago that there was no actual "brontosaurus", last year it was determined that dinosaurs were incapable of roaring and probably cooed or quacked. On behalf of our collective childhoods, here's a sort of cello-flute-roar-growl, noisy dark ambient track.

This is Rings in inharmonic string/4x polyphony mode, fed by a squarewave from EON, into Warps wavefolder. EON's pitch is slewed, but Rings' is not -- but Rings' Structure is modulated by an envelope from Tides. A sine from Three Sisters also joins the wavefolder input on some notes. Processed through Sandman Pro, MTransformer and ValhallaVintageVerb VSTs.
51Mar 12 Plommon
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:34 "Plommon" is just Swedish for "plum", and is one of the colors available for Torbjorn in Overwatch. I just like the sound of the word, the "mwah" of the bass sound here brought it to mind.

Bass/Melody: 0-Coast, with triangle through Warps wavefolder, blended in its balance section modulated by its slope generator. Output through Three Sisters LPF and Zlob dual VCA, for a different sort of VCFA sound than 0-Coast's transistor LPG. SnareBuzz, Presswerk, and Valhalla UberMod VSTs.

Kick Drum: Peaks.

Snare-ish drum: EON noise through Synchrodyne filter modulated by Mini Slew envelope. Kick and Snare together through dblueClipper and Valhalla Room VSTs.

Other percussion: Maschine factory samples and DrumSynth.
52Mar 14 As We Know It
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:54 It's probably the end of something as we know it, and I feel... what's a step below fine but still functioning?

Voice 1: Tides Parasite Two Bumps; Bi and Uni into Three Sisters Low and Center inputs. Mini Slew envelope controls Three Sisters frequency and VCA; Mini Slew EOC triggers a Peaks envelope that modulates Sisters span.

Voice 2: 0-Coast, self-patched. Square into Fund input, Slope triggered by gate, negatively modulating Lin FM a bit and Multiply a bit; random per note variation of Overtone.

Drums: Goldbaby Valve SK1 kit, with +decimate, JCM900, Purp (my own distortion plugin) and mda Subsynth VSTs. Additional Maschine Drumsynth snare and kick.

Voice 3A&B: Serum, and Phosphor through Echobode VST.
53Mar 16 Central
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:34 Yup, just making some stuff. I was a bit inspired by wind chimes here, believe it or not; I just wanted to keep it more abstract.

Voice 1: Microbrute, with filter FM from Warps mediated by Zlob Dual VCA controlled by Microbrute's envelope. Through Uhbik-A, Valhalla Space Modulator, ArcDev ET-301 Delay and SerumFX VSTs; ET-301 delay time is sequenced throughout the track.

Voice 2: 0-Coast and Synchrodyne. Pitch CV into SD is downward slewed (but upward at normal rate of change); SD VCA is AM'd by 0-Coast's square output and 0-Coast's slope is triggered by SD's phase delta output. SD 2PWF inot 0-Coast Fund in, and 0-Coast Slope controls mix. ValhallaRoom VST.

Voice 3: Tides into Rings input. Rings in sympathetic string mode. EON envelope controls Tides FM, Rings position and output VCA. ValhallaPlate VST.
54Mar 17 Irresponsible Alchemy
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:16 Unpredictable sounds precipitating from complex but rational laws, strange reactions, and possibly toxic bubbling and dripping? It must be Irresponsible Alchemy.

A chaotic generative patch with Synchrodyne and envelopes from EON and Mini-Slew at the heart, modulating its frequency. The audio input to SD's filter is Tides FM'd by SD's pulse output.

While this isn't a two-part patch in terms of control and composition, there were two inputs recorded. The first is SD's 4PWF output through ValhallaRoomvoice; the second is Tides' High Tide output and the SD's PLL output, vocoded in Warps, which runs through Synthrotek DLY modulated by the SD's phase delta output.

During the recording there's some manual flipping of EON's mode switch to engage or disengage its repeats, SD's PLL tracking and Tides' slope.
55Mar 19 Reaching Into the Weird
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:09 I've been waiting to use this song title since the start of the year. Weird as my music may get, it didn't seem to fit until this one. On some level, it describes my creative process; I imagine a sort of cosmic well of strangeness from which ideas and magic can be drawn. That's where this expedition goes.

Voice 1: Three Sisters as three sine oscillators, through Zlob Dual VCA, with self-FM through Synthrotek DLY. A send FX channel with WaveShaperCM and Dubstation VSTs.

Voice 2: 0-Coast. Voice 1 and 2 share an instance of ValhallaPlate.

Voice 3A: Microbrute, with filter FM from Synchrodyne's saw output, audio-rate PWM from Warps and input from Tides. MB's LFO controls the amount of rate modulation on a Mini Slew cycle which goes to Synchrodyne's linear FM. Ratshack Reverb VST and an IR reverb of a vacuum cleaner tube.

Voice 3B: Microbrute's envelope controls Synchrodyne's filter VCA, fed from Warps; SD's 4-pole output through Valhalla Vintage Verb VST.
56Mar 20 Smooth Moose
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:35 This was going to be about a Very Fast Moose, but it decided to slow down and show us its smooth moves. It's possible I just really want a smoothie right now.

First drum set: HelloSamples Analog Tempest.

Voice 1: Synchrodyne filter input pinged by a trigger, with frequency set by V/OCT input. 2-pole output into some basic EQ and dynamics VSTs. Some of what sounds like a lot of other modulation is probably the analog PLL tripping over itself, with excessive track speed fighting against high damping. Some of it is that this kind of filter behaves very differently from most resonant filters.

Second drum set: Maschine Hardkore Gothik B kit.

Voice 2: Rings in FM mode, through Three Sisters. EON envelope modulating filter frequency and FM feedback.

Voice 3: 0-Coast FMing itself with its Slope generator, with randomized envelope times. Through G8 Gate (cutting out the loudest dynamics to disrupt the rhythm) and Dubstation VSTs.
57Mar 21 Strange Geographies
(MP3) (YouTube)
7:51 Earlier this week, in the dead of night, my spouse announced that "Weird Geography" was a track title I should use and mentioned its similarity to Lovecraftian "weird geometry." She also said I probably wouldn't remember that when I woke up, but since she seemed to think it was important at the time, I did. But I like "strange" and the plural better for this purpose.

We've both been having some vivid and strange dreams lately -- hers involving David Bowie, mine about the superpower to accelerate the rusting of metal and also enormous haunted houses ruled by vampires. The geography is certainly strange there.

A busy noise/drone patch. Synchrodyne is syncing to an EON squarewave, and is FM'd by its own PLL's phase delta x a Mini Slew cycle modulated by a couple of other sources. There's a bunch else going on which involves most of the rest of my modular system, making this another sort-of-two-parts patch, and a few some effects in the box.
58Mar 22 Dust Sorting
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:47 I woke up at 3 AM and made this track, killing batteries in both my wireless trackball and the multicolor LED wand that Dr. Bleep included with my Thingamagoop 3000. Turns out it's probably not the best source of primary illumination when you don't want to just turn on the main room light.

Another one featuring Synchrodyne. The thing is a weird beast and warrants the exploration. I'm doing a bit more with VST effects here though to bring out the creaks and aliasing.

Main voice: EON into Synchrodyne filter input. Synchrodyne frequency, VCA and resonance modulated by Mini Slew envelope.

Secondary noise (soloed at the start): Main voice input through G8 Gate (inverted) and Decimort2 VSTs.

Kick: Synchrodyne's square output through VCA, with some Valhalla Vintage Verb VST.

Snare-like thing: The main voice input again, through dBlue Clipper, ShaperBox, Crumble, and VVV. (Crumble is an experimental vector resampling VST plugin I wrote.)
59Mar 23 I Drink It--What Happens?
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:50 Optimist: The glass is half full.
Pessimist: The glass is half empty.
Gamer: I drink it--what happens?

The Olegtron*4060 can be patched in a "correct" and straightforward way, but truly every patch point can be an input, an output, and can even power the circuit. Everything is influenced in both directions by everything else. There's always a certain amount of uncertainty involved when patching it, and trepidation when connecting it to other gear with stricter rules.

Here the 4060's +PWR input is fed with a Mini Slew cycle multiplied by Synchrodyne 4PWF output. Mini Slew is FMd by Tides (in slow cycle mode), which has its slope modulated by one of Olegtron*4060 pins (a slowish division); Synchrodyne PLL influence is modulated by EON cycling envelope which is rate-modulated by 2hp LFO. Mini Slew is FMd by Tides and multiplied by Synchdrodyne; Synchrodyne is FMd by Tides and its PLL influence is modulated by EON envelope which is in turn modulated by 2hp LFO. The 4060 itself is simply patched with a couple of different sized capacitors at slower divisions and an LED near the higher divisions.

With an S.P.O. channel between the Mini Slew and the 4060, manual tweaking of the offset and attenuversion, and a much lighter touch on a couple of the Synchrodyne's PLL controls, provided a lot of variation beyond the already chaotic motion going on. Some of the wilder moments weren't done by hand but by a sort of harmonic convergence between modulations. Once again, nothing here is actually random; it's just very chaotic.

As fun and fascinating as this experimentation is to me, I feel like I've done a lot of it lately and it's probably time to grab the reins and make more intentional music for a while.
60Mar 24 Fist Full of Grace
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:12 Sometimes songname.net really delivers the goods. This one suggests desperately, awkwardly, fiercely clinging to something (maybe in a metallic robot hand or a gauntlet) but only really grasping it when you let go. Reading too much into random words is fun. :)

Started before bed, woke up early to finish it and am taking off for work a few minutes later than normal to get this uploaded.

Voice 1: Rings in inharmonic strings mode. Its input is Synchrodyne's 2P output with the frequency set low, through Three Sisters highpass and Synthrotek DLY. A Mini Slew envelope controls Synchrodyne FM and VCA; an EON envelope modulates the DLY's feedback amount and the rate of 2hp LFO, which modulates Rings' position.

Voice 2A: 0-Coast and Tides in typical same-pitch-external-oscillator-goes-through-Tides-Fund-input-and-shares-dynamics configuration. A Peaks LFO modulates Tides' shape, its High Tide output self-modulates Slope, and the LFO from Microbrute modulates the 0-Coast's Overtones.

Voice 2B: Microbrute, usually sticking close to voice 2A.

Lots of processing in the box on each channel. Perhaps too much.
61Mar 24 idspispopd
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:43 Hooray for glitchy rhythms!

Remember when cheat codes were a thing? Did millenials use them or was it much more of a Gen X phenomenon, like shareware floppies? I kinda feel old just for asking this question.

Anyway, this one smashes pulses, rather than pumpkins. Judge for yourself whether the debris is putrid.

Drums: Noizedrums VOl2 BubbleCloud sample kit.

Voice 1A: (little noisy bits) Synchrodyne, with PLL fed by gates, Bastl Kastle into VCA input, 2-pole wavefolded output fed back into input, 4-pole output to DAW.

Voice 1B: (squeakier little noisy bits) Tides PLL fed by Synchrodyne's square output and its multiplier shifted by Synchrodyne's 4-pole wavefolded output, ring modulated with Synchrodyne's phase delta output.

Voice 2: mda DX10 VST bass.

Voice 3: NI Monark VST chords.

Voice 4: 0-Coast with its square output divided by Mini Slew.
62Mar 25 All Manner of Revolving Things
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:16 The title is a quote from John Philip Sousa, who was opposed to "mechanical music" (player pianos and Victrolas). The soul of music, he argued, was being replaced with "a mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks, cylinders, and all manner of revolving things." He was certain that recordings would mean an end to amateur musicianship, mothers would never sing to their children, and civilization would come crashing down. History, of course, proved him wrong.

This track began last night as an experiment with using triggers and normal tempo clocks to trigger Synchrodyne's PLL, with low multiplier settings but its natural tracking errors. I got some interesting rhythmic triggers out of the PLL and Phase Delta outputs which were generally more organic and less predictable than Euclidean rhythms.

Then I decided I'd try it with Tides, which tracks signals in PLL mode much more cleanly but has interesting ways of shaping its output. The rhythmic variations weren't as diverse but there was still some fun to be had with it.

This isn't the first track since I got Synchrodyne that doesn't have it in there, but it got the ball rolling. I sure do use it a lot, and it might have supplanted Rings as my favorite module.

Rhythm loop: An EON looping envelope clocking Tides PLL. Low and Uni outputs pinging Three Sisters Low and High inputs, and Bi output modulating Three Sisters FM. High output back to Tides Shape; Low and High outputs recorded. Effects are Decimort 2 and a touch of ValhallaRoom.

A little additional percussion: Maschine Drumsynth.

Voice 2 (pad / fake theremin): 0-Coast with vibrato from Mini Slew, into ValhallaRoom.

Voice 3: Phosphor VST.

Voice 4 (beeps and whines): A 6-bit noise sample I made years ago.

Voice 5: mda ePiano VST through SerumFX.
63Mar 26 Level 6
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:04 Welcome to Level 6.

(Fear not, this is drone and dark ambient.)

It's difficult to separate many of the voices in this piece by ear, but here's what I used:

1: A sample I made in 2008 called "contact_smear_loop." Your guess is as good as mine.

2: 0-Coast, FM'd by an EON square wave, blending itself with an Olegtron 4060 drone.

3: Bastl Kastle, with some gated timbre mod, into Rings (inharmonic string mode) with subtle pitch change also gate-controlled. Both Rings outputs into Warps, with a blend of ring mod and bit mangling, mixed with the unadultered Rings odd out. ValhallaPlate and D-Pole VSTs.

4: Tides, with a complex looping ADR envelope from the Ornament & Crime Piqued app modulating its slope, and self-modulation of shape and FM. Bi output into Synchrodyne filter input, High Tide into Synchrodyne PLL influence. Synchrodyne 4-pole output recorded.
64Mar 26 Western Influence
(MP3) (YouTube)
5:33 If I were to create music for a living, I might have to specialize in horror movie soundtracks. I'm not even a fan of horror movies generally; it's just what comes out.

Something about this one made me think of Toru Takemitsu writing for something creepy set in the canyons of the American West, so that's "Western" in two senses of the word. est Coast synthesis has been a big influence since I started getting into modular synths. Since last night's St. Louis Osuwa Taiko show I'd been pondering the accidental and intentional influence of Western music on taiko. And someone mentioned "Fievel Goes West" the other day and that probably lodged in some part of my brain.

Voice 1: Rings in modal mode with 4x polyphony, fed by Three Sisters bandpass self-oscillating. RIngs output into Warps, ring modulated against Warps' internal oscillator. Four channels of O_C Piqued modulate Sisters Quality and FM, Rings FM and Warps' VCA. Plugins are Space360, ET-301, Ubermod, Horse (my own dirty chorus) and TB Equalizer.

Voice 2: MicroBrute with Mini Slew as an extra envelope modulating the triangle metallizer. Valhalla VintageVerb VST.

Voice 3: NI Razor & Replika VSTs.

Voice 4: 0-Coast & Tides. 0C clocks Tides PLL, which feeds 0C input. Three independent LFOs modulate Tides shape, slope, and 0C balance. ValhallaRoom & Sugar Bytes WOW2.
65Mar 29 Not Without Incident
(MP3) (YouTube)
2:55 It had been a while since I started writing something, hated it, rewrote it and wound up with something completely different. It's also been a while since I had technical problems on the scale this one had; my 0-Coast stopped holding notes as long as it was supposed to and I had to work around it by using the other MIDI interface (good thing this one only had the two voices).

After recording the track, then writing up a forum post about the issue I decided to try one more test and... I couldn't make it fail again.

Some tracks are just cursed/a pain in the ass.

In my frustration I also managed to forget to take any notes before unpatching everything, but a little bit from memory:

Voice 1 is Tides Parasite in Two Bumps mode, with the Bi output going to a channel of the Dual VCA and the 1-bit High output going through Warps Parasite delay on the way to the other VCA channel. O_C Piqued sent envelopes to the two CV inputs and Tides Shape, and a fancy looping wobble off somewhere else. There's some delay and reverb in the box, too -- particularly Sandman Pro, which has its Sleep mode engaged strategically in each of the 15/4 measures in this piece.

Voice 2 is the 0-Coast square wave feeding Rings, which went to the 0-Coast's Balance input to AM its shaped wave against its own triangle wave. That's the clever bit. The other clever bit was sending noise from EON to Mini-Slew, with instant rise but a slightly slowed fall, to modulate Rings FM with a somewhat different character than regular noise. That was a trick I picked up from Todd Barton's Buchla Blog, which I was reading for some insight into my future modular plans. I like the psuedo-West-Coast-ish stuff I've managed so far and want to really do it right with a couple of Make Noise/The Harvestman voices.
66Mar 30 Rabbit Rabbit
(MP3) (YouTube)
3:37 Okay, I know that's a thing you're supposed to say on the first of a new month, not almost the end of one. But this track was somewhere between a happy accident and an homage to the shime and tetsu-zutsu outro for St. Louis Osuwa Taiko's "Three Rabbits" by Joel Balestra, so I had to use the name.

The rhythm which emerges comes from Mini Slew cycling, pushing EOC triggers to DPLPG. Articulation comes from a squarewave LFO modulating the Mini Slew's rise time, which changes the length of EOC. The sound source is Tides FMing Warps' oscillator in wavefolder mode and modulating the fold threshold. Random gates from EON modulate Tides smoothness (I mess with the attenuation on it manually). The Mini Slew's slope also modulates Warps' algorithm which brings the wavefolding in and out a little during the course of each "hit".

Check out "Three Rabbits" as well as a couple of my remixes on St. Louis Osuwa Taiko's album "Misotose."
67Mar 31 Jungle Gym
(MP3) (YouTube)
1:25 Playing with some drums last night, and my new Disting this evening. It provides a much cleaner noise source than EON does, so of course I had to downsample it just because.

Drums: Dia de la Glitch April kit.

Voice 1: Disting mk4 noise through its own sample-and-hold clocked by Synchrodyne, into Rings input. Sympathetic strings mode. Slow but wide random LFO on Rings position. Ornament & Crime envelopes on Synchrodyne clock, Rings brightness, and output LPG. Warps Parasite tape delay modulated by another slow random LFO, then Valhalla Plate.

Voice 2: 0-Coast running its squarewave through Mini-Slew for shaping, and using that to modulate its Balance input. MTransformer and PSP Pianoverb.

Voice 3: Microbrute with its Sub input modulated by Tides, which is frozen by the MB's envelope so effectively it samples once per note.

Voice 4: Korg MonoPoly VST through WOW2 lowpass, plus my own "TrySynth" naive oscillator plugin through WOW2 highpass.

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Check out my older musical projects:
Falls A Star
Lotus Wire

contact: atswhelly@mail.star-thief.net

All music is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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